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Betting Legislation: What is the Wire Act and its Future?

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by , 21 January 2020 at 2:33 pm (334 Views)
Unless youíve been living under a rock, youíve probably noticed that there has been a lot of noise surrounding legal gambling in the United States.

Many states already had provisional sports betting and table gambling at certain tribal casinos or riverboats, so it isnít wonít take these states too much extra effort to convert their legislation into a full-blown gambling operation. That said, Trumpís wire act threatens to unravel all of the recent progress that we have seen to this end.

So what will happen? A few states are already up and running with full-fledged online gaming and a couple of dozen others have made moves to legalize it Ö Even more, have legislation currently under review or new bills submitted that would allow gambling. But the current administration has been reversing the amendments to the Federal Wire Act, which could put state-run operations in jeopardy on a federal level.

What is the Wire Act?

The Federal Wire Act was instituted back in 1961 as the official act that prohibited gambling in the united states, essentially giving a monopoly to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Back in the day, sports betting was mostly run by the mob from boiler-room call centers, remotely accepting wagers via the telephone. Hence the term, Wire Act.


In essence, it was a way to thwart the mob and them adding funds into their organized crime coffers. This can be seen clearly in the wording. It isnít targeted at the individuals betting, but the business end that facilitates the betting. It also targets information related to results, mostly related to rigging or the fixing of contests. Furthermore, it is specifically worded to contests of skill and sports-related events, which would leave open other types of gaming, such as casino-type games of chance.

How does this affect us now?

Back when the Wire Act was written, the internet was an esoteric sci-fi fantasy. So, when internet gambling became a thing, it was defaulted to illegal as per the Wire Act, even though per the 2002 clarifications statement, the Wire Act did not cover the internet sports betting and was quite unclear as to games of chance Ė even over the phone or at land-based sites.

But with the advent of the internet and its rise, the UIGEA passed a law using much verbiage from the original Wire Act to make it illegal for United States banking institutions to handle money from gambling institutions, even from trusted sites, this was done under the guise of national security, part of the seaport security bill.


In 2011, the Act was finally clarified a bit more Ė at the request of New York state. It was found that the original Wire Act, in fact, did not cover games of chance, therefore, things like poker and other casino games actually fall outside of what the prohibition covers. Now states could start acting on their own to set up legal, taxed operations.

Now, when it comes to sports betting, recent Supreme Court rulings deemed the Act limiting sports wagering to Vegas and Atlantic City unconstitutional and downright unfair, aspects of the Wire Act have been being reversed. And many states are now operating full-fledged sports gambling systems. Certain states are opting to use the lottery systems they already have in place to create their sports betting products.

Now back to the top, the current organization is looking to dismantle this progress. So, what about the next cabinet?

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The only presidential candidate that has actively spoken against the way the revisions to the Wire Act are being handled is Joe Biden. He openly states that he does not feel like there is an issue with online sports betting and it needs no further oversight. Elizabeth Warren wonít speak for or against but said she doesnít feel like gambling itself needs more oversight, yet she has also compared the betting industry to pay-day loans. And is clearly not for online sports betting or games of chance for that matter. Bernie Sanders seems to see-saw. One year heíll support pro-gambling-related legislation and another heíll support anti-gambling. Furthermore, online gambling has been an issue since the early 90s, and Bernie Sanders recently stated that he still hasnít made up his mind on the topic. Hmmm Ö 30 years and you canít make a decision?

Regardless of your political stance, Joe Biden is looking like the safest bet where gambling legislation is involved.

Updated 25 February 2020 at 6:49 pm by Integrity

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